MIRROR SHOW 2017, by Tom Svec

Opening Friday, June 2nd, 2017 at 6pm


The compositions included in this show are intended to rearrange and deconstruct otherwise familiar settings to suggest new ways of seeing one’s surroundings. They are intended to be kaleidoscopically entertaining, slightly humorous, and a bit off-center. In that regard, it is possible that they are somewhat autobiographical.

044 (1).JPGThe art of seeing as apposed to the business of looking is at the heart of it. In practical terms, a mirror does not lie, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it must tell the straight, unvarnished truth. I remember walking around the house as a child holding a mirror out in front such that my path lay across the ceiling. We had a bathroom mirror with two side wings that swung inward so that one could see his reflection echoed into infinity.

These pieces are about collage that includes anything within view – constantly changing and rearranging. There is no deep hidden meaning, no covert philosophy, no personal catharsis. They incorporate small tidbits of the woodworking equivalent of semi- precious stones. These accumulate in my workshop – some go back many years until such a place is found for them.

I distinctly remember spectacular pieces of Birdseye maple stuck randomly in the floor of our high school gym. Sensitivity to the diversity of such a common material obviously goes back a long way. Like much of my formative years, I was always focused on that which did little to guarantee success in a conventional sense. I am, however, easily entertained by such minutiae.

All that you see here is intended to speak on its own terms. The small blocks of wood need little more than a platform to wax eloquent. The mirror may not lie but hopefully there might be a wink and a nod.


Svec’s original workshop and studio was established in 1980, shortly after college graduation, in cramped rented space – the basement of an old farm house.  It was moved to its present location at 51 Island Road in about 1988 upon completion of the building which houses it to the present.  The building, a post and beam barn, was acquired in 1986, disassembled,  moved, and re-erected on its present site on the Great Island, just east of Lock Haven, Pa.

Lock Haven State College, as it was known then, had no program in furniture design at the time when that direction presented itself.  Through their General Studies major, a curriculum of unconventional, yet pertinent, coursework resulted in a viable background in art, art history, archaeology, anthropology, botany, and 3-D design for Svec.  This included ceramics, sculpture, and color and composition, with a fair amount of science on the side.

His woodworking skills are largely self-taught.  Access to a hobby shop belonging to his father provided the earliest opportunities for acquiring skills.  Other than a brief, required course in wood shop in eighth grade, all other woodworking education has been self-generated.  2015 marked Svec’s 35th year of continuous endeavor as a furniture designer/builder.

Since the beginning, domestic hardwoods from the abundance of upstate resources has been the featured material utilized in the production of fine, original design furniture. In addition to conventional lumber, extensive use of salvaged wood from building demolition, and urban tree service sources, has been incorporated in the design process.

Born in Ames, Iowa, the middle child of nine, Svec briefly attended Iowa State University, before being drafted into the Army.   After being discharged, he relocated to Central Pennsylvania to be near his grandparents, who lived in Williamsport.

In addition to the workshop, he also opened a showroom and gallery in 2012 at the same address.   It is open year around by appointment.


Learning to See is an exhibition featuring five original drawings, completed by students Brandon Wolff, Ainsley Bennett, and Katelyn Klinger during one of the foundation courses, ART 180, at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Students in the course focused on drawing from observation, exploring traditional methods and techniques while developing their perceptions of line, shape, form, light, and composition. The work will be on display at Gallery425 through May 2017, beginning First Friday, May 5th, 2017 at 6:00pm.